Matthew Kadey, MS, RD December 20, 2012 TWEET COMMENTS 14

Health Food or Fraud

Health-food imposters and those that need more love

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto.com

Even if you eat what you think are “healthy foods” and you avoid Twinkies and big-gulp sodas, you could be unknowingly upsetting your diet by being duped into making less-then-stellar food purchases at the supermarket.

That’s because food manufacturers are brilliant at making items seem healthier than they are by using meaningless phrases like “reduced fat” and “multi-grain.” And foods that have been saddled with a bad rap are actually heathy.

Here we’ve teased out the science from the sales pitch to help you up the nutritional ante of your training diet and make better choices in the grocery-store aisles.

Healthy or Not: Reduced-Fat Peanut Butter
Verdict: Not Healthy

While light peanut butter has about 30-percent-less fat than regular, it contains more sugar and sodium to make up for the flavor lost when fat is stripped away and the calorie count between the two is negligible. Most of the fat in peanut butter is the heart-healthy monounsaturated kind anyway, so replacing it with processed sugars and salt is hardly an upgrade.
• Your move: Choose nut butters with one ingredient: nuts.

Healthy or Not: Multi-Grain Bread
Verdict: Not Healthy

The majority of breads labeled “multi-grain” or “made with whole grains” are actually made with mostly refined flour. A peek at the ingredient list will reveal the first ingredient to be wheat flour, which is a euphemism for white flour and nutritionally inferior to fiber-rich whole-wheat flour. Manufacturers sometimes include whole grains in the mix, but the amount added is anyone’s guess.
• Your move: Select only bread products that list a true whole grain as the first ingredient. This includes whole-wheat flour, whole rye or whole oats.

Healthy or Not: Dark Poultry
Verdict: Healthy

Save money and boost flavor by joining the dark side. Dark poultry cuts, such as chicken thighs, contain only one extra gram of fat per serving than chicken breast and have twice as much iron and three times more immune-boosting zinc. A culinary bonus: unlike white meat, it’s difficult to dry out dark meat during cooking.
• Your move: Replace white meat with dark meat more often.

Healthy or Not: Vegetable Oil
Verdict: Not Healthy

Low in saturated fat and free of trans fat, vegetable oil seems like a healthy choice. But vegetable oils are often made with low-grade soybean, corn, cottonseed or sunflower oils that are especially rich in omega-6 fats. A diet with too much omega-6s and too few omega-3s can promote internal inflammation, raising the risk for chronic diseases like heart disease and potentially slowing exercise recovery. Many pre-packaged items and restaurants use these oils.
•Your move: Cook with oils that are lower in omega-6s such as canola oil, olive oil, coconut oil or avocado oil. Eat fewer processed foods and meals in restaurants.


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